Klezmer Music: Roots and Revival
- Course Code:
- Unit value:
- Taught in:
- Term 2
Objectives and learning outcomes of the course
This course aims to provide in depth knowledge and understanding of the Jewish klezmer music tradition, including its roots among the Jewish diaspora in pre-World War II Eastern Europe, its transformation in early twentieth century America and its revival and contemporary trends in the USA, Israel and Europe. Via this subject matter, this course seeks to develop students’ music analytical skills, critical thinking and understanding of wider issues in the study of world musics, including the concept of diaspora, insider/outsider status of performers, and the transformation of functional performance traditions for the “world music” concert stage.
Workload2 hours per week
Scope and syllabus
This specialist course is designed to run in alternate years to the more general course Aspects of Jewish Music. For students who have taken AJM this course is intended to allow them to pursue an interest in this topic further; it is also suitable for students new to this subject area and for non-Music students who have some musical background; it might, for example, be paired with other courses in Jewish history and culture. This course is designed to complement and enhance the Department’s provision of courses on musics currently popular in the “world” music scene. It also reflects the well established place of klezmer music among the performance activities of SOAS students, and will make use of the holdings of the Jewish Music Institute library, housed at SOAS.
Focus will be placed on an analytical understanding of the musical structures and forms of traditional klezmer music, and upon the exploration of issues of diaspora, identity and musical change.
Outline of lectures:
- Introduction to Ashkenazi Jewish culture
- The core East European klezmer repertory: dance forms
- Klezmer music and the synagogue modes
- Performance practice and ornamentation
- Klezmer in the New World
- The 1980s klezmer revival: music and identity
- Reading week
- New stylistic approaches: Budowitz, Brave Old World and the Klezmatics
- Expanding the klezmer repertory: Yiddish song and Hasidic nigunim
- “Klezmology”: academic approaches to klezmer music
- Klezmer in Germany and eastern Europe
- New directions: fusions and hip hop klezmer